When anything goes wrong abruptly with your pet reptiles, it might be unexpected. It might be challenging to determine the issue and how long it has been because there are less indications than you would notice with mammals. Impaction, a condition that can be hazardous, results in a blockage in your beardie’s digestive system.
Even while it can be fixed, if the problem stays untreated, it might be dangerous. Early issue detection is beneficial for both immediate therapy and long-term prevention. Let’s discover exactly what you’re searching for so you can act swiftly.
What is Bearded Dragon Impaction?
In essence, impaction is a terrible case of constipation. Your beardies’ digestive tracts become clogged with waste, making it difficult for them to expel it as they should. Impaction may be to blame if you find that your dragon hasn’t passed a stool in a while.
Wastes may accumulate inside if they wait too long to use the restroom, which eventually results in death. It’s crucial to recognize when it’s happening because it’s one of the most frequent reasons why bearded dragons pass away.
What Causes Bearded Dragon Impaction?
Unfortunately, there are numerous factors that can lead to impaction in a bearded dragon, including the use of risky substrate, the use of difficult-to-digest feeders, insufficient tank temperatures, and many others.
See how these risks—along with a few more—can cause impaction problems by reading on.
A balanced diet of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals is necessary for your bearded dragon. More significantly, they require clean, fresh water for their digesting. Your beardie’s system may slow down if they are insufficient.
Because wild bearded dragons frequently consume raindrops or morning dew, many of their keepers mist their area to simulate rain. But you may also provide a supply of moving water. Water on stagnant dishes tends to accumulate germs and proliferate, which might have negative effects.
Additionally, 80% of the food consumed by bearded dragons must be gut-loaded insects like crickets, mealworms, and superworms. Additionally, they require a lot of fiber-rich fresh vegetables to help with digestion.
One of the most frequent causes of impaction in bearded dragons is an unsafe substrate, which is why it’s one of the most crucial components of a suitable habitat design. If consumed over time, loose substrate like sand or pellets as well as commercial goods like Calci-Sand might cause serious obstruction.
Expert Advice: Many producers of substrates assert that their goods are completely secure. Reptile goods are mostly unregulated, though, so businesses that make fraudulent promises frequently escape punishment.
Because bearded dragons have a reputation for devouring whatever they come into contact with, it’s important to utilize a firm, secure substrate.
There are several suitable materials, including paper towels, newspapers, reptile carpet, excavator clay, ceramic tiles, and rubber shelf liners. These solid materials are significantly simpler to clean than loose substrate, in addition to being safe.
Impaction may also result from your beardie not residing in the proper temperature range. Beardies inhabit hot, dry desert environments in the wild. Their preferred basking locations must be comfortably warm, between 88 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
You may turn out the lights at night to simulate a cold desert night, when the temperature stays around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Too much cold can significantly slow down your bearded dragon’s digestive system and lead to accumulation. Therefore, to achieve an accurate reading, always have a thermometer linked to the interior of the cage.
Difficult to Digest Feeders
A feeder (i.e., a live insect) may be challenging to digest and cause impaction for two different reasons.
The first is their size, followed by their type of shell.
A solid rule of thumb is to never provide your bearded dragon with a feeder that is broader than the area between its eyes when it comes to the first.
Concerning bothersome shells, if consumed excessively, insects such bigger crickets, mealworms, and superworms might endanger your dragon’s digestive system.
All of these feeders should never be given to baby bearded dragons, but only very seldom as a special gift to adults.
Any meal that is too big to pass through a bearded dragon’s digestive tract causes impaction, which is when food is blocked. Generally speaking, you should only feed your beardie items that are smaller than the space between their eyes.
The kind of food also counts, so be careful while choosing their diet.
The exoskeletons of large crickets, superworms, and mealworms are extremely difficult for your dragon to digest. Never feed these foods to a baby dragon and only occasionally to an adult. Dubia roaches are a far superior substitute.
Last but not least, a bearded dragon outside of its habitat may attempt to eat everything that fits in its jaws. Watch them closely when they’re out adventuring since you never know what they’ll get into!
Why do these symptoms occur?
It’s merely unpleasant for impaction that is less severe. Imagine having a large, solid, undigested mass within your stomach! Additionally, you wouldn’t want to eat. You also wouldn’t want to be particularly active.
Your beardie feels a lot of pain from an impaction. This is one of the most crucial justifications for us to notice it quickly. We find it difficult to visualize our beardie lying about in discomfort.
We want to do all in our power to maintain her overall happiness, health, and well-being.
A bearded dragon’s spinal cord is not particularly well-protected. They lack discs as humans do. Their neurological system is exposed as a result.
Large impactions have the potential to impinge on these exposed nerves. They then lose part or all control of their back legs as a result of this. Visit a vet right away if your bearded dragon exhibits any of the following symptoms: difficulty walking, tremors, trembling or immobile hind legs, or other similar signs.
How to know when there is a problem
There are two different warning indications that your bearded dragon may be in trouble. The bodily symptoms come first. Things that are visible via direct observation.
The behavioral signs come in second. These are simpler to identify the more you are familiar with your beardie.
The following warning signs and symptoms might be an issue with your beardie. They might, however, also be explained by a variety of other factors. Prior to making a decision, it is crucial to consider the entire circumstance.
If you are even slightly hesitant, it is better to see a veterinarian. In comparison to you, a trained herp veterinarian will be able to identify and treat your bearded dragon far more quickly.
Having said that, we don’t want to have to take our pets to the vet right away for even the smallest issues. As responsible pet owners, we should be able to identify what could or might not be the source of our scaly companions’ ailments by getting to know them well.
Pay attention to these items. Note them down. If you suspect a problem, keep a tight eye on your bearded dragon. Towards the end of this post, we’ve provided a list of various potential therapies you can try before visiting a veterinarian.
Once more, it’s best to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. We must stress this again and again. However, you can frequently treat a potential impaction (or constipation, a distinct issue) at home rather simply without having to visit the vet if you discover it early.
How to Help Impaction
You may test certain things at home to see whether your beardie will pass the stool if you feel impaction is an issue. If the problem is still minor, you might be able to provide a hand from home. Find a veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets if you can’t.
Although your beardie might not immediately pass the stool, this procedure should hasten the process. Do not hesitate to call a veterinarian if you see no change. They might be able to provide you some more advice or tactics you can use at home, or they could suggest that you have them come in for testing.
You may also monitor food intake and basking temperatures in addition to these actions. Adapt the situation as necessary. You can discuss your routine of care with your veterinarian to see if they have any suggestions for changes.
Follow these measures if you wish to try to assist them at home in passing the impaction:
Take a hot bath. Before you immerse your beardie, make sure the water is not excessively hot or cold. Your bearded dragon can unwind and aid to lighten the bulk in the warm weather.
Gently rub the abdomen in the direction of the vent. This movement aids in removing the obstruction so that fluid may move normally through their system. As impaction might cause your beardie great discomfort, be aware of any pain reactions.
Continually do the action for several minutes. For a few minutes, you can attempt this massage, but be gently.
It should help break up the bulk once you give them a light rubdown.
Before putting your beardie back, take careful to thoroughly dry them off. You don’t want to startle them. Before returning them to their cage, towel them off.
How to Clear Impaction in Bearded Dragons
You may frequently assist your bearded dragon in having a bowel movement in small and early occurrences of impaction by responding fast.
Draw your bearded dragon a warm bath and consider filling it a little higher than normal to give them a chance to swim about.
Be ready to wait for your dragon to complete the deed for up to 30 minutes while making sure to keep a tight eye on it.
Although it might happen sooner, 30 minutes is a good amount of time to allow.
In order to induce a bowel movement, you can also very delicately touch your dragon’s cloaca and stomach.
You might simply need to take your dragon to the veterinarian if, despite your best efforts, he or she still isn’t using the restroom.
Check out some additional treatment options in the area below if seeing a veterinarian is out of the question for you or if you can’t obtain an appointment soon immediately.
Impaction Treatment Options
There are a few natural therapies you may attempt (provided the symptoms aren’t too severe) if your bearded dragon has missed a few days’ worth of bowel motions and you believe impaction may be the cause. Of course, taking your bearded dragon to the vet is a smart decision if things are getting serious.
Some of your choices are as follows:
Check The Basking Area Temperature – Because a chilly basking area is bad for the digestive health of your bearded dragon (and basking bulbs weaken over time), you should frequently check the basking zone temperature.
A cheap temperature gun is even more accurate than a thermometer, which only provides you a broad indication of the temperature. The digestive health of your reptile can be substantially impacted by a variation of just a few degrees.
Give Your Beardie A Warm Bath – Bearded dragons frequently love to urinate in water, so try placing yours in one to energize them!
Verify that the water is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit using your handy thermometer or temp gun. To give your reptile room to swim about comfortably, fill the bath a little deeper than normal.
Your beardie should have enough time to unwind and perform their duties in about 20 to 30 minutes. To prevent the bath from being too cold, remember to intermittently add warm water throughout the whole bathing session.
Give Them A Massage – While your bearded dragon is in the bath, you may attempt two different sorts of massages to see if you can ease its impaction.
The first is a little kinder and you gently stroke its flank from head to tail. The digestive tract should be moved along as a result.
The abdomen will receive the second massage, which you should provide with a little bit greater pressure than the first one. On the chest, softly downward press. Repeating this procedure can successfully pass a remarkable number of feces, particularly when they have been impacted for a considerable length of time. But don’t push it!
Regardless of the massage technique you choose, make sure your pet is constantly supported by your hand and kept upright. Never leave them on their back, as bearded dragons have severe difficulties breathing on their backs.
Try Some New Food – It’s crucial not to give your affected dragon any live creatures that could be part of their regular diet. Instead, feed them soft, simple-to-digest meals that are kinder on their digestive systems.
An affected dragon can first be reluctant to eat. Put some puree on their nose if you’re having problems getting them to consume this new meal. Even if they didn’t plan to consume it, they will probably reflexively lick it off! Additionally, you can spray some puree into their mouth or on their nose using a syringe.
Visit the vet with your bearded dragon.
Take your beardie to the vet right away if none of the at-home remedies work within a week or if the symptoms are severe (such as immobility, regurgitation, or limb dragging).
It would be ideal if your veterinarian has experience treating exotic animals. To assess the severity of the impaction, he or she will first take an X-ray of the abdomen region. The veterinarian will then collaborate with you to develop a detailed treatment plan (this usually involves laxatives of some sort).
He or she could attempt an enema if that doesn’t work.
Surgery can be required if laxatives and an enema are ineffective in removing the impaction. Surgery may seem like a costly choice, but keep in mind that your pet’s life is on the line. Payment plans are frequently available from veterinarians, which may considerably lessen the financial strain on pet owners.
It’s crucial to understand that impaction need not spell doom for your adorable bearded dragon.
Even though impaction can result in death, there are a ton of available treatments and DIY solutions that are worth researching to get your child back on track and feeling fantastic right away.
Be patient, explore all of your choices, and if all else fails, be prepared to attend the veterinarian. Your pet will likely be OK in no time if you’re ready to put in the necessary effort.